Dysgraphia is a form of handwriting disorder and learning disability that is becoming increasingly common in children. It mainly affects the ability to write—an activity that requires a complex combination of information processing and motor skills—making writing extremely difficult for those that display it. Dysgraphia can lead to difficulty in putting thoughts on paper, poor handwriting, and poor spelling abilities. Children with dysgraphia often have trouble organizing letters, words, and numbers on a page or a line.
Just like many other learning disabilities, dysgraphia can pose lifelong challenges, although the way it manifests may change as time goes by. A student or child with this disorder can improve by allowing certain accommodations in his or her learning environment. Additional time with a pediatric occupational therapist spent learning the skills required for writing may also improve the condition.
Handwriting is a developmental process, which means that with appropriate OT intervention a child can learn the motor skills and strategies required to be able to write efficiently. Some warning signs of dysgraphia in young children include:
(1) Tight and awkward pencil grip or body position while writing,
(2) Avoidance of drawing or writing tasks,
(3) Trouble forming letter shapes,
(4) Poor understanding of the concept of lowercase and uppercase letters,
(5) Inconsistent spacing between words or letters,
(6) Inability to draw or write in a line or inside margins
(7) Tiring quickly when it comes to writing tasks.
There are different strategies that an occupational therapist can educate children and parents on that can help achieve writing success in children and even adults with dysgraphia. These strategies mainly fall into three categories, namely, remediation (providing instruction in order to improve writing skills using a variety of approaches (such as sensory motor or neuro-kinesthetic), accommodations (offering alternatives to written expression), modifications (modifying tasks or expectations to improve overall success rate for daily classroom tasks)